The once very popular Murphy’s Law was stating ‘Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong.’ The practical application of the saying into the space horror genre seems to be director Daniel Espinosa‘s Life. What if the worst assumptions and the deepest fears related to the long expected contact with alien life become true? This seems to be the premises of the film, coupled with an execution which salutes famous predecessors like Stanley Kubrick‘s 2001: A Space Odyssey and Ridley Scott‘s Alien, but does it in a different dosage of the components adding a few of its own to be satisfying, interesting and thrilling.
The rules of fantastic fiction are well respected here as all starts in the familiar and thought-comfortable atmosphere of the space expedition returning from Mars and bringing back the first proof of alien life. Times Square fills with enthusiastic viewers of the life broadcast from the international space station where science mixes with trivia about food entering and exiting human body in no gravity conditions, and school kids give a household name (‘Kevin’) to the new form of life. It just happens that this very smart alien cell has the power to turn in a few minutes of screen time into a killing machine that will start devouring the crew whose mission of ensuring protection of Earth and life on the planet is in jeopardy, and gets suddenly much serious consequences.
For a serious science-fiction movie the script has huge holes and abounds in science gaffs, but this becomes secondary because of the good characters development. Quite unusual in the genre, we get to know the six astronauts, and when they start dying heroic but horrible deaths we already know and feel something for them. Good actors performance helps, with Jake Gyllenhaal excelling in his ‘guy-we-care-about’ routine. The sets also try something different, this space station has a lot of tubular corridors where the lack of gravity is induced to viewers by using camera position effects and the colors palette looks like the (dark) negative of the cool non-colors in Kubrick’s film. I will not say more about the ending then stating that this was one of the most unexpected and unsettling movie ends that I have seen lately. One more good reason not to miss this film, especially if you like science-fiction and horror.